Elegantly designed and written, Australia’s Alquimie magazine dedicates its pages to the art and culture of making drinks. Interview with Editor in Chief Joshua Elias.
Baron: What’s the story behind Alquimie?
Joshua Elias: The Alquimie concept is underpinned by the search for a drinks publication that we could read ourselves. Many of the existing publications provide short form articles that are driven by scoring and status. Our publication takes a step back from that to consider the landscape a little more broadly. Consider it a kind of ‘zooming out’. Whether it be the dining table or the distillery, the craft behind drinks, the language, the food and the general culture that surrounds it. For this reason, we consider all drinks. It is quite a broad brief but it gives us the freedom to stumble across things that we find inspiring.
B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
J. E.: We search for timeless pieces. These are the drinks that play an important part in history beyond the confines of a particular suburb or neighborhood. Trends come and go and the Internet is a far more efficient tool for documenting that category. As a medium, print is at its best when it can be used timelessly, as a reference piece. From that starting point, we indulge the voice of our writers; some will naturally be more scholarly whereas others prefer a more relaxed style. We don’t try and over impose an ‘Alquimie’ voice onto their piece. Just as you wouldn’t get your architect to clean your house, we try to respect the craft of the writers that we work with. We have a fairly good idea that our authors have a good level of wonder, excitement and humor before we choose to commission a piece.
B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why?
J. E.: We chose print for its tangibility and it’s longevity. We wanted something permanent and luxurious to embrace the tactile sensation of publishing. As drinking is a physical thing, it made perfect sense to use a medium that you could feel and hold. Our paper stocks are a mix of 120 gsm uncoated & FSC certified as well as 140 gsm coated & FSC certified.
B.: What has been the readers’ response?
J. E.: The public response has been really positive. We are always surprised at how far around the world our publication is being noticed. Parts of Europe, USA and Canada have all been buying copies despite the fact that Australia remains the stronghold from a distribution perspective.
B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales or advertising. How are your sales? What is your advertising philosophy?
J. E.: The advertising approach incorporates printed advertisements and a selection of paid features known as ‘Alquimie serves’. These are different to traditional native advertising as there is clear exposure and the client is looking to incorporate their product into our concept. It is not a ‘blind endorsement’. The publication is certainly not paying all of our wages yet. Myself and the three other partners in the business continue to work other jobs to support the magazine but the amount of advertising is constantly increasing and we are not far away from the position where it could be our primary income.
B.: Upcoming projects?
J. E.: Edition three is just being released now (first week of August). It is an exciting document with all types of drinks from Switzerland to India and beyond. It was a pleasure to compile. Upon its launch we will conduct a couple of events to celebrate the issue’s content. This includes a paella and wine evening as well as a lunch with dumplings. Edition four is well underway and it will include some really interesting articles including a wine that we deconstructed and matched to a dessert. It plans to be a visual feast.